Minutes of the Longparish Housing Group Meeting

15 January 2007

Attendance:  Mike Johnson (Chair), , Mary Jo Darrah, Catherine Sweet, Fiona Gould, Cheryl Dowler, Trevor Bettell.

Observer:  Phil Harris

Apologies:  Jeremy Barber

1. Approval of Minutes

The minutes of the meeting of 12 December had been approved.

ACTION: Fiona was asked to put all approved minutes onto website. Catherine agreed to print off copies of minutes for 12 December and of 15 January and insert into Shop File.

2. Report on Meetings between TVBC and landowners

Mike Johnson reported on his conversation with Giles Wentworth, the agent for Zurich, owner of one of the sites, following his meeting with Steve Lees from the TVBC Planning Department. The conversation had indicated that Zurich remained interested in proceeding with discussions, in light of the financial and planning constraints that had been explained to it by TVBC. The “wish list” of community gains had been broached with the agent. The agent had made his views clear that Zurich would be looking for a “single clear exit” from ownership of the land concerned. He also advised that he agreed with the principle of smaller open market houses, instead of large “executive developments”, and that these should be in complimentary styles.  The approach favoured by the agent at the moment was for 1/3 open market, 1/3 shared ownership and 1/3 rental- in line with the split being proposed by the Housing Group between social and open market housing. The Housing Group discussed whether the proposed balance between shared ownership and rental homes was right; it was agreed that it is too early to take a firm view on this until such time as the finances are looked at in more detail.

It was apparent that TVBC has not yet spoken formally with the other landowner, Richard Wills; nor had any advice come back regarding the additional sites around North Acre proposed at the Open Exhibition. The meeting agreed that it was important to treat all interested landowners equally. Given the community support that Richard Wills had demonstrated, this was viewed as important.

ACTION:  Mike Johnson agreed to a e mail Steve Lees to press home the need to speak with all landowners and to advise promptly regarding the additional sites. The Housing Group agreed at this stage that it is important to maintain a multi-site strategy until such time as either planning or a landowner has ruled a site out.

3. The Open Forum

An exploratory meeting had been held on ?? December between three members of the Housing Group and Jeff Bishop, an independent facilitator recommended by TVBC.  His CV had been circulated to the “Alternative View” group, as well. The Housing Group agreed that he seemed to be suitably qualified and that, as an independent operator, he could help move things forward. He had proposed a two phase approach, the first of which would involve an initial meeting to see what (if any) common ground could be found, as well as areas of disagreement, so that an agenda for an “Open Forum process” could be mutually agreed. He did see a single “open village meeting” as running a risk of degenerating into confrontation, and that more progress could be made by tackling the issues in smaller groups, perhaps running simultaneously at the same time.

ACTION: Fiona Gould agreed to contract Jeff to explain the situation and the next steps that he would need to take, possibly in the form of a written proposal to the Parish Council.  Mike Johnson agreed that the Parish Council would need either to hold an ad hoc meeting or to agree by correspondence to his appointment, given their role as “appointing and funding body”. The meeting agreed that this should happen before the next Parish Council meeting on the 12th of February. He agreed to take this forward.

When it came to timing of the event, the Housing Group was of the view that the “first stage” meeting might involve only a subset of the members (perhaps three?) and a similar number from the so-called “Village Alliance” or “Alternative View” group. We strongly urge that a third group of participants be involved, as well, to represent the “middle ground” of undecided villagers.  This first stage meeting needed to be held in February, and the outcome of it would help to shape the agenda for the Open Forum sessions, which would be held on a Saturday in March. The date would need to be publicised in the Hill & Valley March issue- with a deadline of 18 February.  

ACTION: The Housing Group agreed that it would be important to have a clear view as to what site(s) were under consideration by the time the Open Forum event was held in March. This meant that Mike Johnson needed to encourage Steve Lee to make contact with all interested landowners in good time, and to ensure that the alternative North Acre sites had been pronounced upon by then.

4. Further Communication  

4.1 Replies to Correspondence

Jeremy Barber had agreed to send meet Tony Holmes on Friday 19 January, in his role as Parish Council Chair.

4.2.  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Following the last meeting, an updated list of FAQs had been circulated. It was agreed that it was now a priority to get answers to these on the website and for use in further work. The format of answers should follow a short (ie two or three sentence) answer in bold, followed by a “more detail” button for those who were particularly interested. One area of information outstanding was a clearer description from Testway Housing and the TVBC Housing Department about allocation formulae and criteria for the existing social housing in the village.

ACTION: Catherine Sweet agreed to re-circulate the list of 32 FAQs and that Housing Group members would identify in an e mail for which ones they wanted to draft answers. The deadline for draft answers was two weeks- and should be circulated before the next meeting on 31 January.

5. Date and Time of Next Meeting

The Housing Group agreed to meet on 31 January at 7.30 pm at Catherine Sweet's home, Newton Cottage. Should any member of the public wish to attend as an observer, this would be accommodated. Please notify in advance.

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